19 firefighters among 48 Taylor layoffs

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR – The city expects to dismiss dozens of employees this month, including 19 firefighters and paramedics.

“We got 30 days to get some kind of deal worked out,” said Fire Chief Stephen Portis, who confirmed that 19 firefighters and paramedics were among the 48 city employees facing layoffs effective July 1.

City officials cited budget restraints for the staff reductions, which were spread across various departments.

“The city of Taylor is trying to deal with a shortfall in revenue,” Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand said, citing a budget that shrank from $54 million in 2010 to $42 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year. Last month, nine police officers were laid off, and 29 city workers in addition to the firefighters were notified last week of a likely termination.

Fire officials said that emergency medical services were hit hardest; the current 59-member fire department will be reduced to 40 if the layoffs hold.

“In Local 1252’s view, Lamarand made a bad executive decision,” Taylor Professional Fire Fighters Union President Stan Pochron said. “The mayor has decided to outsource and privatize EMS services instead of using the city’s highly trained and qualified paramedics. We think the mayor is being irresponsible concerning the maintenance of critical public safety services.”

Negotiations between the union and the city failed to reach a compromise prior to the City Council approving the budget last month. Lamarand said that the two sides could not reach an agreement on salary issues.

“Their proposals have been to simply reduce staffing and maintain the same level of pay or, in some cases, increase pay,” Lamarand said. “We tried to make proposals to maintain the staffing numbers, but they were not met with any willingness to discuss. The employees were not willing to take less money to preserve jobs.”

Lamarand said that no decision has been confirmed regarding privatizing ambulance services.

“We still have 28 certified paramedics,” Lamarand said. “I do not like making decisions strictly on cost, but I don’t have the ability to spend money I don’t have.”

Barring any progress in the negotiations, which both fire and city officials said remain open, the 48 employees’ final day will be June 30.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

Firefighter suspended pending drunken driving charge
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR – A firefighter has been suspended following his arrest for drunken driving.

Taylor Fire Chief Stephen Portis confirmed that the 37-year-old firefighter, expected to be arraigned Wednesday in 33rd District Court, was suspended following his arrest in Brownstown Township May 18.

“We currently have a firefighter on administrative leave without pay,” Portis said.

The firefighter’s status will be reviewed following court proceedings.

The suspended firefighter was previously the subject of controversy when he was hired in 2003 despite a criminal record, including having pled guilty to assault the previous year.

The firefighter was among those who received layoff notices last Thursday (see related story Page 1-A). Portis said that further decisions will be made following Wednesday’s expected arraignment.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)